Schlocktober 2.0 : No Rulez (Early Ju-On)

How is it already October? I've somehow let another year slip by having barely touched this blog. As always, you can expect this month to be my most active of the whole year. I have a new job that's kept me very busy in 2014, a blessing beyond belief, but lately things have slowed down around here. As it always seems to in the late summer/early fall. I've been easing back into my comfort zone with  the steady consumption of constant movie watching.

I'll be the first to admit that sometimes it feel like a task to compose a formal review. I've always enjoyed cataloging the movies I watch and have been doing so for the past year on Letterboxd. The convenience of quickly adding movies to my "diary" and list making attributes makes it too fun to resist.  Feel free to follow me if you're a member. I generally write a blurb every few movies if something stands out, for better or for worse. But now it's October, or should I say ... Schlocktober? My attention has circled by to my love of blogging.

 Last year I assigned myself the difficult task of watching and reviewing one horror movie per day. I would like to do this again, only with less rigid boarders. Basically this year Schlocktober will be a mixed bag of reviews from the current cycle but also a general homage to the season. Meaning, if I can't crank them out, get off back, yo! Not that anyone has ever been on my back about this EVER but whenever I set a goal and don't accomplish it I imagine that I've angered the silent masses. This is almost surely untrue, literally no one cares but if I announce that sucking is apart of the plan it will put my mind at ease when the inevitable scatter brained self loathing begins. I just want to give myself the freedom to write as little or often as I want and in whatever style of tangent I choose. NO RULEZ. Ok, so maybe this is just a preamble to my laziness. But I have so many amazing movies lined up it may also be the best Halloween Season ever.

Let me start by mentioning some recent horror ventures I've taken. Lately I've been rediscovering the Ju-on Series. I watched the theatrical version earlier this year for the first time in ten years. I enjoyed it so much I immediately followed it with the sequel, which I equally loved. No matter how popular or "cliche" these films are, I find myself effected by them. I'm of course strictly speaking of the Japanese series. I barely remember the American Grudge (though I plan to re-watch all three of those eventually too, despite my better judgement). I don't need to sell anyone on Ju-on, pretty much everyone has seen it now, or is very aware of it's existence. I'm here to talk about the four prequels/originals that Takashi Shimizu made between 1998-2000. While they're definitely not without their own following, they're somewhat fresh to me. They have their fair share of spooks and a shot on video quality that we like here at Atomic Caravan.

I started with the two short films from 1998, 4444444444 and In a Corner. These were apart of an anthology featuring a couple of other directors (according to IMDB), though I haven't found anything on the anthology in it's entirety. At only three minutes long they're kind of like teaser trailers for what would become one of the biggest Japanese movie franchises of the next decade.


A teenage boy is passing through an alley on his bike when he hears a mysterious phone ringing. He stops and finds an abandoned cellular device hidden in between some boxes. As you could have probably guessed, the number reads "4444444444" (The film is generally known as "Ten Fours"). He answers and hears what we now recognize the signature cat howl sound. I say signature because I'm assuming everyone reading this is familiar with some incarnation of the Ju-on/Grudge movies. If not, this may not be a good review to start with because I don't feel like shielding spoilers. As it's only a brief three minute tease, not much happens. Though he is greeted by an unfriendly visitor and we can imagine what happens next...

In a Corner (Katasumi)

Obviously filmed at the same location, which I realize at this point is supposed to be a school. Two girls are feeding some rabbits for class on their summer break. One girl, Kanna, is complaining about it, as most kids would. Generally just wanting to be somewhere else. While her classmate Hisayo is happily taking care of the bunnies. Kanna swings around a broom in boredom and gets a splinter. Hisayo runs off to get her a band-aid and while she waits we get a POV shot of Kanna being attacked by an unknown something lurking from the woods. When Hisayo returns, there's blood and pieces of dead rabbits everywhere. Kanna is nowhere to be seen. While she's trying to take it all in, something crawls from behind a tree. Not an animal. A ghost lady. You know the one. All creaky and twisted making some not so pleasant frog noises in her throat. Her. That one. She who has wrecked my life. One of the few fictional characters who has genuinely made it difficult to fall asleep because I'm convinced she's crawling around my ceiling. I don't have to elaborate any further. You know how that story ends. Once you see her, BYEEE.

I thought both films were way effective for the micro-budget he was working with. As it turns out, director Takashi Shimizu studies directly under Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure, Pulse, Sweet Home) who pushed for the Ju-on films to be made, probably based on these two shorts. Shortly after, the first two direct-to-video films were made...

Ju-On: The Curse

Structurally similar to the famed theatrical version, the story revolves around a haunted house that's ensnred by a gnarly curse. The curse states that when someone dies by the hands of intense rage, the "feelings" that remain will manifest as entities and kill anyone who crosses the threshold. When a jealous husband , Takeo, discovers his wife's obsession with another man (their son Toshio's teacher and former college mate) he convinces himself that he isn't the biological father of Toshio. He then murders his wife Kayako, Toshio and the cat. I'm already familiar with the story and despite having actually already seen this film about ten years ago, I remembered almost nothing about it other than having so many similarities to the 2002 film.

Upon re-watching, it's really not bad at all. The theatrical Ju-On is fine tuned and what I consider to be a near perfect film, it's a treat to see a director's earlier no frills attempt at something that would later make him famous. The scares may not be as severe, the atmosphere might not be as crisp but there's a gloominess about this first effort that strikes me as both emotional and disquieting. Our first time seeing the infamous house, which would be reused in almost every film (all of the ones I've seen so far anyway). It's supposed to be a very average looking house, but to me , especially in these first two films, it has a dullness that really feels like a murder has taken place there.

I love the look on the Teacher's face in this scene.


One of the best things about the film is that it ties 4444444444 and In a Corner up nicely! The three characters who are attacked in the shorts are written into Ju-On the Curse.

Ju-On : The Curse 2

In the sequel, unfortunately we're forced to watch 35 minutes of the first film all over again. One of the longest recaps I've endured rivaled only by maybe Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2. By the time new plot developments start to unfold we're past the half way mark which doesn't really allow enough time to appropriately finish off the story. It ties up a few loose ends from the first and has a couple of striking moments but overall it was a bit lackluster and certainly my least favorite that I've seen so far (discounting the American remakes).

While struggling with disappointment, there will always be THIS scene...




So much nope happening in this scene I can't handle it.

I'm glad I kicked off the season with something that is not cliche but classic. I don't generally boast on about commercially successful films on this blog but it's been rattling around my brain for a few days so now that I've exercised my pallet and now I'm ready for some spooky kicks.

But in case you guys decide to watch it and get too scurred, just do what I did and focus on the porcelain cats.


  1. Stupid ghosts killing bunnies. I hope ghost bunnies will get their day.

    1. No woodland creatures are spared :-( .

      p.s. good to hear from you! Your web presence is missed from fartbook.